Imagine the head of an organization who is sharp, intelligent and articulate but most people can’t seem to get along with her. She does not connect well with people and she does not see it as her lack of ability, but thinks that others do not “get” her.
Daniel Goleman, in his groundbreaking work Emotional Intelligence, has raised awareness of the importance of leaders having emotional intelligence if they are to be successful.
I believe emotional intelligence is crucial for the success of any leader. In many cases emotional intelligence becomes the key factor in how well you guide and care for the people under your leadership.
Goleman identified five areas you must attend to in order to develop emotional intelligence.
- Self-awareness. Goleman describes self-awareness as, having a deep understanding of one’s emotions, strengths, weaknesses, needs and drives. People with strong self-awareness are neither overly critical nor unrealistically hopeful. Rather, they are honest— with themselves and with others. Not only will you have awareness of who you are but also of how your emotional state affects others. Assessments such as Myers-Briggs and Gallup StrengthsFinder could serve as starting points in developing you self-awareness.
- Self-regulation. According to Goleman, self-regulation is like an ongoing inner conversation . . . the component of emotional intelligence that frees us from being prisoners of our feelings. People engaged in such a conversation feel bad moods and emotional impulses just as everyone else does, but they find ways to control them and even to channel them in useful ways.The tendency is to give in to what you feel but later have regrets. As a leader, strive for responding appropriately without being held prisoner by your emotions.
- Motivation. What keeps you focused and motivated? Goleman says if there is one trait that virtually all effective leaders have, it is motivation. He describes motivation as, a passion to work for reasons that go beyond money or status; a propensity to pursue goals with energy and persistence. In other words, as a leader your primary motivation in all things should be to bring honor, glory and praise to the One who called you to a place of leadership. How you respond when you come under attack by those you lead will reflect your motivation. Goleman observes that … people with high motivation remain optimistic even when the score is against them.
- Empathy. This ability relates to dealing with others. Leaders with empathy will take into account the feelings of others when making decisions, though without taking on the troubles of others. Identifying with others in their pain while maintaining emotional boundaries demonstrates appropriate empathy.This area of emotional intelligence may be your most vulnerable as a leader. Many leaders have been derailed due to lack of boundaries in the area of empathy. Goleman explains it like this: For a leader . . . it doesn’t mean adopting other people’s emotions as one’s own and trying to please everybody. That would be a nightmare—it would make action impossible. Rather, empathy means thoughtfully considering employees’ feelings—along with other factors—in the process of making intelligent decisions.As a leader you will find yourself unable to take action or make intelligent decisions if you do not develop appropriate empathy and emotional boundaries as you try to view decisions from the perspective of those you lead.
- Social Skills. Your ability to succeed as a leader will depend greatly on your social skills. According to Goleman, social skill is not as simple as it sounds. It’s not just a matter of friendliness, although people with high levels of social skill are rarely mean-spirited. Social skill, rather, is friendliness with a purpose: moving people in the direction you desire. Your social skill will depend largely on the extent to which you are aware of the previous four areas. To be friendly with a purpose will require that you know yourself and be motivated and empathic toward those you lead.
As you have read through the five components of emotional intelligence, which area requires your attention? Many tools are available to help you grow in your emotional intelligence. For starters, see Goleman’s book, Emotional Intelligence.
Successful leadership in the 21st century depends more on how well you are able to relate to yourself and those you lead, than the qualifications you have and the power and authority that comes with your leadership. If you don’t know how to relate well with yourself, you will not be able to relate well with others. Emotional intelligence is vital and necessary if you want to be a successful leader, whether that is in your home or at the office.
If you would like help in achieving your goals as a leader or in any area of your life, call us at 208-880-0307 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a complimentary coaching session. To read Errol’s other posts, visit Christ-Centered Life Coaching.